The “Easier Than it Looks” Birthday Cake

60th chocolate birthday cake

60th chocolate birthday cake

It’s only on special occasions that I bake big cakes here. I was asked to bake a special cake for my Mother-in-Law’s 60th birthday. The original brief was a sugarpaste creation, but time limitations didn’t allow this, then I remembered the cake that Lorraine Pascale made in her first series of Baking Made Easy.

You don’t want to know which cake I originally planned to make. Seemed like a grand idea until I happened to spot the calorie content coming in at 1000+ calories a slice. I don’t count calories but seriously doubt that many cakes in this world would be worth indulging in for that. While this cake isn’t the healthiest (no the strawberries don’t cancel out the buttercream) it has to be better and it’s a treat cake, not something that should be eaten everyday.

chocolate finger birthday cake

Decorating cakes doesn’t have to be time-consuming or need a PhD in sugarpaste to do. The key is to keep it simple. Add too many colours and textures and you’re asking for trouble. Baking and decorating this cake took just 2 hours, though I did spread it over 24 hours. Also avoid hand piping as much as possible unless you know you have a super steady hand. I use Tappit letter cutters that give nice clean lettering.

If I had one slight criticism of the recipe is that the cake was very slightly dry. Chocolate cakes can be like this due to cocoa content, but it does make a good sturdy cake to ice.

As it’s more or less not my recipe I’ve linked to Lorraine’s original and noted my adaptations below

The “Easier Than it Looks” Birthday Cake
Makes 20 cm/8 inch birthday cake that serves 12-15


  • Lorraine Pascale’s “I can’t believe you made that” cake
  • 10 inch gold cake board
  • 2.5 x 125g boxes of Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers, rather than the pricey chocolate cigarillos recommend in the original recipe. This works out at roughly 58 chocolate fingers for the cake and some to have with a cuppa once you’ve finished your masterpiece.
  • Two punnets of strawberries
  • Small piece of chocolate sugarpaste
  • Sugar flower or modelling paste for the lettering
  • Small amount of icing sugar to dust worktop
  • Edible gold lustre and stars for a bit of birthday bling
  • Small amount of gin/vodka or water

1. Follow Lorraine’s recipe up to and including instruction 7 but use the chocolate fingers instead of the cigarillos.

2. To make the name banner roll out a piece of chocolate sugarpaste until around 3cm x 18cm. Straighten off the edges with a knife. Then make cuts at each end of the ribbon to make the points.

easy birthday cake 3. Now make your letters. I use FMM Tappit cutters to get the clean font. Once you get used to the cutters they work really well. Dust your work surface with a small amount of icing sugar then roll out the sugar flower paste until it is less than a mm thick. Then cut out your letters. This video below uses the same method as me. I tap the letters out on a chopping board to make sure I don’t damage the table.

4. Put the strawberries on the cake and dust with a bit of edible gold lustre and stars then place the sugarpaste ribbon over the strawberries. Using a fine paintbrush paint the back of the letters with a small amount of gin then carefully stick to the ribbon. I use gin to stick sugarpaste as it dries quickly and is less likely to leave a water mark. Serve.

happy birthday cake

Published by Jules

Professional Food Geek who loves a freshly baked loaf.